UAI Leadership Team

Kiri Soares as Principal heads up the school and the UAI Leadership team. She works closely with administrators supervising operations, student affairs, and instruction. Here she is with her team:

Kiri Soares, Principal.  (ext. 40111; kiris@uainstitute.org).  Kiri Soares co-founded the Urban Assembly of Math and Science for Young Women in 2006.  Targeting the gender disparity of women in STEM fields, through nurturing their interest and developing thier capabilities in math and science.  UAI pairs rigorous academic instruction with strong social emotional education to achieve this goal.  Kiri earned her BA in Philosophy & Education from UC Berkeley and completed two masters degrees (one in teaching from San Francisco State University and one in administration from Mercy College).  She has worked as a teacher, instructional coach, assistant principal, and principal in the NYCDOE since 1997.

 

Annie Annunziato, Assistant Principal (ext. 20111; anniea@uainstitute.org).  Annie joined UAI in 2016 as a school dean.  A long-time Urban Assembly teacher, Annie is deeply familiar with our family of schools and the unique mission we all share in preparing students to graduate from both high school and college.  Annie works closely with Jen to help our students understand how to make strong, positive choices that further their academic goal and help them develop strong social-emotional skills. Annie also provides support to classroom teachers to establish strong classroom management practices and create effective learning environments.     

Jen Cusa, Director of Student Affairs (ext. 30111: jenc@uainstitute.org). Jen Cusa is a licensed Master Social Worker and joined UAI in 2007.  She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a BA in Social Thought and Political Economy.  She went on to receive her masters Social Work from Hunter College. Jen’s work emphasizes the implementation of social emotional learning practices and creating school-wide policies that promote positive learning environments. Jen supervises our team of counselors, social workers, and deans to provide structured SEL support and disciplinary structures to ensure student success.  Building on this SEL work, Jen also supervises our parent coordinator to facilitate strong family-school relationships.

Brodie Crawford, Director of Operations (ext. 14522; brodiec@uainstitute.org) 

Hi I’m Brodie, and I’m originally from Newport, Rhode Island, but I’ve lived in a few other places too:  Baltimore, Philadelphia, Scotland, and – since about 1999 – right here in Brooklyn!  I’m entering my 12th year of UAI, having come to the school as a career changer in the school’s second year.  After 10 years as a Social Studies teacher, I moved to administration as Director of Operations, where I get to work every day to help make the school better for our staff,  teachers, parents, and most of all, for each and every one of our students!  After completing a BA in History at Loyola University in Maryland, I attended graduate school at University of Glasgow in Scotland, where I earned a Master’s degree in Modern History.  After returning to the States and spending several years in the media business, I completed my teaching credential at Brooklyn College. This past summer, I began my official journey toward becoming an Assistant Principal, by participating in the Leaders in Education Apprenticeship Program.    When I’m not working, I enjoy reading, swimming in the ocean (even when it’s cold out), motorcycles, running, and hanging out with my wife Marielle and my two kids, Jackie and James.

UAI Operations – Next Level Guidance and Main Office Support Staff

Guidance Counselor Lauren McGuinness is excited to be back at UAI this school year after having her baby girl this winter. Ms. Lauren is originally from Maryland and went to college in North Carolina. After teaching middle school in the Bronx, Ms. Lauren decided she wanted to do more work with students one-on-one, and went back to school at Fordham for her masters degree in Mental Health Counseling. UAI is her favorite school that she’s worked in because of the family feel of the all girls environment. She will be helping our 8th graders through their high school applications this year and will also be doing work to recruit potential new students to our amazing school.

 

 

Delmeter Carey, Purchasing and Payroll Secretary (ext. 14552; delc@uainstitute.org).  Del Carey is a founding member of UAI.  She has been supporting our school since the doors opened in 2006.  Del is responsible for all staff payroll, human resource support, and purchasing for teachers and staff at UAI.  As main office support, Del is one of the first faces you’ll see when you enter our office and one of the first voices you’ll hear when you call.  She is the proud mother of two amazing young men in college and is ready to happily help you whenever and for whatever you need!

 

 

Nancy Johansen, Pupil Accounting Secretary (ext. 14553; nancyj@uainstitute.org).  Nancy joined UAI in 2010.  She shares the main office support work with Del and provides our teachers and students with student accounting support (metrocards, updates to family contact information, medical record, lunch forms, and attendance).  Nancy is one of the first faces that welcome students and families to UAI (either via phone or in the main office).

 

 

Social Work and Guidance

Marni Brand, Girls Inc. Social Worker (ext. 20121; marnib@uainstitute.org).  Marni first joined UAI as a social worker with the Carrera Treasure Academy in 2011.  Marni is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  She graduated from the University of Massachussetts – Amherst with a BA in Psychology and received her MA in Social Work from NYU.  Marni began her career at Acorn Community High School in Brooklyn.  She has experience with diverse populations including college students, mentally ill adults, early intervention & court-mandated drug abusers.  Marni has a passion for helping her students navigate through adolescence.

Jennifer Jackson Robbins , Guidance Counselor (ext. 20131; jenniferjr@uainstitute.org). Jennifer Jackson Robbins has been supporitng our young women as their guidance counselor since 2009.  In addition to providing our students with IEPs with mandated counseling support, Jennifer also works with our incoming students to provide direct SEL instrution to help our students adjust and transition with strong, positive, pro-social skills.  Jennifer also coordinates Skedula and STARs support for the school, updating transcripts, running report cards, and keeping Skedula up to date.

UAI Instructional Staff and Paraprofessionals

English Language Arts

Rebecca c

Rebecca Candela, 9th Grade ELA, 12th Grade AP English (ext. 40911; rebeccac@uainstitute.org) My name is Rebecca Candela and I am originally from Michigan. All of my life I have enjoyed working with children and have work with kids since I was 16 years old.  When trying to figure out my career I knew I wanted to help others and work with kids, so naturally I gravitated towards teaching.

I moved to NYC after receiving my Bachelors of Science in Education from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.  I earned my Masters in Literacy Acquisition at City College of New York during my first few years of teaching. I will be starting my 14th year teaching in NYC and my 7th year at UAI.  I will be teaching 9th grade English and AP Language and Composition this year. I love being an English teacher because I love reading. I understand the importance of getting students to love reading, too.  Whenever a student says to me, “I don’t like reading,” my response is, “you just haven’t found the right book.” I especially love working at UAI because it gives me the opportunity to empower young women and guide them in realizing their true potential.  I feel honored that I am able to work with such brilliant young ladies that will shape the future of our country. I believe education is paramount to addressing the many social justice issues in our country. Therefore, my pedagogy is centered on addressing social injustice and this passion is reflected in the curricula I create.  

This year I am excited about my new role as the AP for All Peer Collaborative Teacher Leader.  I’m eager to guide the staff and students at UAI as we work towards creating a strong AP program to ensure that all of our students are college ready.  

Christina Choi, 7th Grade ICT, (ext. ; christinac@uainstitute.org).  Christina works with our 7th graders supporting their learning in our middle school ICT classes.  As one of our two special education coordinator,s Christina writes student IEPs, coordinate s Annual Review team, and liaises with members of our school based support team.  Christina is the proud mommy of a beautiful daughter.

Kristina Coriarty 7th Grade ELA (ext. 30711; kristinac@uainstitute.org) Originally from Brockton, Massachusetts, Kristina moved to New York City in 2012 to pursue a career in education. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Stonehill College in 2009 and her Master’s Degree in Adolescent Education from Pace University in 2015. While working on her degree at Pace, Kristina came across a unique opportunity to teach abroad and moved to Seoul, South Korea, to teach English as a Foreign Language for a year. One of her greatest hobbies is travelling! She has travelled all over Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, and the United States. When she isn’t teaching, Kristina also enjoys running, reading, and playing her guitar. Kristina is excited to begin her 3rd year teaching at UAI!

Marsha Derice, 8th Grade ELA, MSQI & LDC Leadership Coach (ext. 30511; marshad@uainstitute.org) My name is Marsha Derice and I’m born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I am a first-generation American in my family of Haitian immigrants…and proud of it!
I attended Adelphi University where I earned my Bachelor’s degree in English and Masters in Secondary Ed. Since I was a young girl, I knew I wanted to work with kids, teenagers specifically. But it was my college professor/mentor who inspired me to pursue teaching. I love teaching English because I enjoy reading and having rich discussion around texts.  This has become the central focus of the curricula I teach. Additionally, I love teaching at UAI because I have the privilege of empowering young women. I’ve come to realize that education is my form of activism.
This year, I will be starting my 9th year teaching in NYC and my 7th year at UAI teaching 8th Grade English. As a teacher lead/instructional coach, I work with my peers to support their development and improve English instruction across the middle school.  I am currently pursuing a degree in school leadership at the Principal’s Institute program at Bank Street College.
When I am not teaching, I’m singing. Fun fact: In 2013, I sung at Barack Obama’s 2nd inauguration with my church choir 🙂

Rebecca Fitle, High School English as a New Language (ext. 14711; rebeccaf@uainstitute.org) Rebecca was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska.  She earned a BA in English from Boston College and an MA in Art History from The University of New Mexico before moving to New York City, where she earned an MA and MPhil in Pre-Columbian Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University.  After taking a break from graduate work to foster the development of community garden groups as Regional Engagement Manager for New York Restoration Project, Rebecca returned to Columbia and earned an MA in Applied Linguistics/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at Teachers College through TR@TC2.  Rebecca has found the NYC public school classroom to be an an ideal place to bridge her varied educational and professional experiences. Her teaching is grounded in her belief that the ability to read and write is a fundamental human right.

phillan

Phillan Greaves, 6th Grade Humanties & 6th Grade ICT (ext. 31111; phillang@uainstitute.org)  My name is Phillan Greaves and I am a NY girl.  Born and raised. I grew up in the South Bronx and relocated to Long Island as a teenager. I have spent all of my life in NY and because I loved it so much, I decided to stay and go to college here. I received my Bachelors of Arts degree in English Literature from Stony Brook University and went on to Hunter College for my Masters Degree in Education. Being  educated in NYC is what brought me into education and ultimately to UAI. Seeing first hand how different the “quality” of education was for those who growing up in the same conditions I have versus others children living in the same city. Not solely because of  the lack tangible resources but more so the lack excitement, desire and simple care the teachers bring into the classroom. Being at UAI has allowed me an opportunity to be the teacher I wish I had as a child . It has given me a chance to expose my girls to literature that forces them to widen horizons, change perspectives, as well explore their own identity with the goal of them being well equipped to carve their place in this world.

 

Cassandra Guerrier, 12th Grade ELA, 9th Grade SEL (ext. 40311; cassandrag@uainstitute.org) Ever since she can remember, Cassandra has been obsessed with reading mystery books, writing (bad) stories and sharing them with anyone who would listen. Naturally, this transferred to her life as a digital magazine editor and as an ELA teacher. Cassandra began teaching at UAI in 2016 and is currently in her fourth year of teaching. She earned her B.A. in English with a minor in Secondary Education from St. Joseph’s College where she dedicated her thesis to Edgar Allan Poe’s writing influence on the modern world, and her M.A. in English from Brooklyn College where she argued about the Sherlock Holmes series’ existence as a feminist text. Mention the words dance, mystery and feminism to her and she will talk to you for hours. As the 9th grade ELA and newly appointed SEL teacher, Cassandra is dedicated to supporting her students’ social-emotional growth while helping them develop the literacy skills necessary to thrive in high school and beyond. In her spare time, Cassandra also dances (ask her about her latest flash mob!)  and writes for women’s health and lifestyle magazines.

Joey O’Connor, 11th & 12th Grade ELA (ext. 85311; joeyo@uainstitute.org) A New York native, Joey O’Connor attended the State University of New York: College at Geneseo, where he completed majors in English Literature and Adolescence Education as well as a minor in Women’s & Gender Studies. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree, Joey relocated to Miami, Florida where he served the vibrant community of Little Haiti as a high school English Language Arts educator and member of 2015 Teach for America national corps. Always eager to improve his practice in the classroom, Joey returned to New York in order to learn alongside the educators at Uncommon Charter High School and master the techniques outlined in Doug Lemov’s transformational text “Teach Like a Champion” — which discusses concrete strategies to propel student learning at the highest levels. Currently, Joey is pursuing his Master of Arts in Teaching at Columbia University to further hone his passion for designing learning experiences that are joyous, rigorous, data-driven, culturally relevant, and empowering. As a fierce advocate for intersectional feminism and social justice, Joey is excited to join the UAI team as the 11th & 12th grade ELA teacher! Joey invites our students to not only collaborate in their close analysis of the craft of diverse authors, but to write their own pointed stories too. He is thrilled to work with our young women and support them in cultivating the critical thinking, reading, writing, speaking, listening, and leadership skills necessary to open doors of opportunity to college and beyond!

Tiffany Richards, 10th & 12th Grade ICT (ext. 40311; tiffanyr@uainstitute.org).  Tiffany began teaching in Brooklyn in 2013 and joined UAI in the fall of 2016.  As a special education provider, Tiffany is committed to supporting our students who have the biggest learning difficulties. She helps them face new challenges and overcome obstacles through her nurturing approach paired with high expectations.  Perseverance and grit are her go-to resources for both herself and her students.

Freida Steiner, ICT ELA (ext. 85311; freidas@uainstitute.org) A native of Michigan, Freida came to New York to attend Barnard College where she received her Bachelor’s in Sociology with minors in Education, Psychology, and Race & Ethnicity. After graduating, Freida spent two years teaching high schoolers in the Bronx as a Teaching Apprentice through Blue Engine. Currently, Freida is working towards a Masters of Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education and is particularly interested in creating curricula and classrooms where students can be their authentic selves, collaborate, and learn from a wide array of resources that reflect many different experiences and identities. Freida is excited to join the UAI team as a special education provider and to work towards making our curriculum accessible to all students.

 

 

 

Mathematics

Nina Granberry, Geometry & 12th Grade LINCT, (ext. 51111; ninag@uainstitute.org) Nina Granberry is a 10-year teaching veteran of New York City Public Schools. She is dedicated to equity and closing the achievement gap by changing the way students view mathematics, making the math attainable and engaging. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Lehigh University in Sociology and Africana Studies and a Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education from St. John’s University. She was a New York City Teaching Fellow (2010) and has taught mathematics to students at the elementary, middle and high school levels. Nina is eager to spend another year helping young women cultivate their potential, build their confidence as female mathematicians and be an active member of the UAI community.

Alison Green, 6th Grade Science (ext. 30911; alisong@uainstitute.org).  Alison began teaching in NYC public schools over 10 years ago.  Five years into teaching, Alison joined UAI as a middle school math and science teacher.  Over the years, Alison has served a mentor and coach for the NYCDOE teaching fellows program, and she now brings that expertise to UAI as a peer instructional coach.  Her work with her fellow teachers has elevated practice in the classrooms and improved learning experiences for students beyond her own classroom.  As the lead teacher of our partnership with Urban Advantage, Alison brings a wealth of resources and experiences in science education to our school, our students, and their families.

Cherry Reid, 7th & 8th Grade Math (ext. 30311; cherryr@uainstitute.org)

Cherry C. Reid began teaching in 2010 and in 2016, joined UAI. She earned her undergraduate degree in Accounting at SUNY Albany in 2004. She later earned a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from Brooklyn College in 2009. After working a year as a pre-K teacher and a middle school math tutor, Cherry returned to Brooklyn College to earn a Masters Degree in Mathematics 5-9 in 2012. She entered the NYC Department of Education in 2012 as a middle school Math teacher. When she isn’t assisting children in developing an understanding of and removing the “fear” out of math, Cherry enjoys jigsaw puzzles and reading the work of Nora Roberts

Danielle Romano, High School Math ICT & Senior Advisor daniellero@uainstitute.org Danielle began as a student teacher at UAI in 2012 and is going into her 6th year teaching at UAI.  Danielle quickly adapted UAI’s learning formats to maximize student engagement and access into complex math concepts.  She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Math Education from SUNY Cortland and a Master’s of Science in Special Education from CUNY Hunter.  As a peer instructional coach, Danielle works with her colleagues to develop practice and pedagogy so all students at UAI have stronger and more engaging classroom learning experiences.

 

Focusing energy on problem-solving and bringing the logical thinking and reasoning we learn through studying math to overcome adversities our girls face being young minority women in today’s society.

 

 

 

Jamie Ross, Algebra & 12th Grade LINCT (ext. 40511; jamier@uainstitute.org) Jamie is going into her 6th year of teaching at UAI. She began at UAI as a student teacher and transitioned into a full time teacher the following year. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Math Education (Grades 7-12) from SUNY Fredonia and a Master’s of Science in Educational Technology from SUNY Oneonta. She is going back to school again through an online Doctoral program in Curriculum and Instruction at the University at Buffalo. Jamie is excited to learn as much as possible from her students and upcoming studies. She enjoys teaching our young women how mathematics plays a part in their lives and how they can use mathematical practices everyday.

Matthew Turner, 6th Grade Math (ext. 30911; matthewt@uainstitute.org). Matthew began teaching in the Bronx in 2014.  Matthew has a passion for helping our youngest learners develop their excitement about math.  He is dedicated to improving his practice, implementing feedback and advice that he actively seeks out from peers. Matthew also works in our after school program with Girls Inc training our middle school students how to become young engineers via Lego Robotics. 

Science

Megan Goodwin, 7th Grade Living Environment & 12th Grade AP Biology (ext. 31511; megang@uainstitute.org) Megan is excited to start her second year teaching Living Environment at UAI.  In addition to 7th grade Living Environment, she will be teaching AP Biology to our seniors.  Megan was born and raised in Central California and earned her bachelor’s degree in child development from San Jose State University in 2013.  She moved to New York in 2014 and worked in technology before she began teaching in 2017. Megan is currently pursuing her masters in secondary education from Brooklyn College.  When she is not working, she loves to travel, cook, and play with her two cats.

Damon Noland, Living Environment & UFT Chapter Leader (ext. 51511; damonn@uainstitute.org) Raised around the world in a military family, Damon moved to Brooklyn in 1988. He has earned BAs in Acting and in TV/Radio Communications, and an MA in Education from Brooklyn College. Damon started teaching in 2011 and this is his 8th year teaching Living Environment, all at UAI. He loves the students at UAI and the intelligence and energy they bring to every school day.

In addition to teaching Living Environment, Damon is also the UFT Chapter Chair and is Union Proud to represent the rights of teachers and staff so they can best serve our students. When not teaching, he loves playing basketball and acts as the assistant coach to the campus Varsity Girls basketball team. He also proudly serves our country as a Captain in the NJ National Guard.

 

 

Amanda Nowicki, 8th Grade Earth Science (ext. 30911; amandan@uainstitute.org) I grew up in a small town called Cochranville, PA which was surrounded by farms and beautiful plains, forests, and hills. One of the best things about living in the country were the sunsets; lovely pinks, soft orange … absolutely stunning.

I have a few hobbies that I have nowhere near perfected; I’m kind of like a hobby hoarder. I love to bake, paint, do yoga, play video games, and swim. My dream is to learn to play the violin but I feel bad for my neighbors having to listen to me.

I achieved a Bachelors of Science in Geology at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and then a Masters of the Arts in Teaching at the American Museum of Natural History. If you have me as a teacher this year, hold onto your seats cause I am going to blow you away with my love of rocks. I bet you didn’t know someone could love them as much as I do which is part of the reason I pursued teaching; to share my love of science and hopefully, help others develop a love for it as well.

I am here at UAI because I want to be apart of the movement to encourage and guide young women who desire to enter the male dominated fields of math and science. UAI is a place where young women can explore these fields, find their voice, discover who they are, and what drives them without being judge. Who knows? Math and science may not be your thing, and that’s okay, but at least now you’ll have the option to pursue it or not.

 

Thomas Wilson, 11th Grade Environmental Science & 12th Grade AP Environmental Science (ext. 41511; thomasw@uainstitute.org). Thomas Wilson is the10th grade Earth science teacher who began his first year at UAI in the fall of 2015. In 2008 Thomas began his BA in Earth science and secondary education at Dowling College in Long Island, New York. In 2010 Thomas moved to New Zealand where he studied volcanology and glaciology at Auckland University of Technology- a partner university of Dowling College. Shortly before Thomas graduated from Dowling in 2012, he studied geosciences abroad in Iceland and Italy during his last semester. In 2013 Thomas began his teaching career in the Peace Corps. Throughout his two year service in rural Malawi, Thomas taught geography, Earth science and life skills at Community Day Secondary School.

Social Studies

Nadine Fishelson, ICT Social Studies & 9th Grade Computer Science (ext. 50911; nadinef@uainstitute.org) Born and raised in Brooklyn, Nadine studied Theatre at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Special Education at New York University. She is joining the UAI staff this year as a Special Education provider and Computer Science teacher.  She began teaching in 1990 and has taught Computer Technology for many of those years. Nadine is looking forward to sharing her love of learning with the young women of UAI.   Her great loves are her dogs Lulu Belle & Griffin. She is an avid knitter.

Kelly Preston, US HIstory & Civics/Economics (ext. 84311; kellyp@uainstitute.org)  My name is Kelly Preston and this is my second year teaching at UAI. I am originally from Round Lake, NY and attended SUNY Geneseo to study history and adolescent education. I then earned my Masters of Arts in Teaching at Clarkson University. This year, I will be teaching 11th grade U.S. History and 12th grade Civics and Economics. In high school, I actually disliked my social studies classes and originally pursued a degree in science education. Once I started college, however, and took history courses grounded in discussions that challenged my understanding of history and broadened my perspective on global events, I knew I wanted to bring these skills and experiences to students in high school. Through the analysis of primary sources and daily class discussions, I hope students will develop into inquisitive, informed, and engaged citizens that advocate for themselves and their communities.

Natalie Rudolph, 7th & 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher (ext. 20511; natalier@uainstitute.org).  Natalie originally joined UAI 2014 as a Job Clob teacher for our Carrera Treasure Academy partner.  At the end of that year, Natalie joined the UAI staff to teach English in the middle school.  Natalie can be found in room 205A teaching history to our 7th and 8th graders this year.

Suzannah Tartan, 10th Grade Global II and 12th Grade Participation in Government & Economics.  After years of teaching in Japan, Suzannah returned to the states to get her teaching degree in history.  She joined UAI in the fall of 2016 as the 10th grade Global and 12th Grade history teacher.  She is passionate about bringing a justice lens to history to invigorate and engage her students.  Suzannah spent two years learning about UAI while working towards her teaching degree.  Her first year, she shadowed students as part of her course project, and in 2015 she returned to UAI to complete her student teaching.  She is committed to UAI and is excited to continue her teaching journey with our young women.

 

Zach Utter, 9th Grade Global History & 12 Grade Civics & Economics (ext 50711; zachu@uainstitute.org)My name is Zach Utter and I am originally from Fishkill, NY in the Hudson Valley. I have recently moved to Brooklyn after teaching in the Capital Region. I have earned a Bachelors of Science in History from SUNY Oneonta, and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Clarkson University. My passion for social studies began in high school because of how it challenged me see the world in a global perspective. Now as a teacher I understand that the true value of social studies is to impart the global perspective while at the same time creating a foundation of historical thinking, which will allow students to be engaged and thoughtful citizens in our interconnected 21st century world. UAI is a place where meaningful, skill based, social studies education can empower our students to be prepared for many of the unprecedented challenges that face the world today.

Language

Elena Brollo 10th Grade Spanish (ext. 40711; elenab@uainstitute.org).   Elena is a native Italian with a dual certification in teaching Italian and Spanish. She earned an interpreting and translating degree in Italy (Spanish and English) as well an MA in Italian and Spanish from Hunter College. She joined the UAI team in 2007, after teaching at the elementary and college level in NYC. Prior to teaching, her work experiences include translating and interpreting, PR, marketing and TV production. Elena brings creativity, cultural elements, and technology into the classroom to address the many learning styles as well as different needs and interests of her students.

Physical Education & Dance

Elana Green, Physical Education (elanag@uainstitute.org)

Tracy Kornrich, Dance Teacher & 8th Grade Advisor (ext 20511; tracyk@uainstitute.org).  Tracy has been with UAI since 2007.  In the past Tracy taught PE, Dance, and Art.  This year Tracy is again bringing beauty to our building through our student’s Art work.  This year, Tracy is also taking charge of the 8th graders and making sure that their final year in middle school is a memorable one.